Albertsons will close four of its 51 supermarkets in Arizona, including two in the East Valley, the company said.
Company spokeswoman Christine Wilcox said stores in Gilbert, Ahwatukee Foothills, Glendale and Phoenix are too unprofitable to remain open. The stores’ roughly 300 employees will be transferred to other stores or laid off, she said.
Wilcox said that it’s too early to know how many workers will lose their jobs, but displaced associates will be given severance packages. “We anticipate that all of the (four) stores will be closed by March,” she said.
It’s the second round of closures in two years for the grocer.
In 2006, Arizona’s Albertsons stores were bought by a group of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management. The group closed nine supermarkets in the state affecting 700 employees due to declining sales. Wilcox said the company hasn’t identified any other stores in the state.
But David J. Livingston, an industry consultant based in Pewaukee, Wis., said it’s more likely the group will continue closing stores to sell the property.
“That’s probably where they’re looking to make their money,” he said. “I don’t believe they’re looking to make money just by selling groceries.”
Livingston said the company is being squeezed by a shrinking market for conventional supermarkets as major retailers like Wal-Mart and specialty grocers including Whole Foods slowly peel away its customer base. Add the fact that Albertsons controls only a small percentage of Arizona’s market as the No. 5 grocer and the tea leaves become clearer, he said.
Albertson’s that will close:
• Ray Road and 48th Street in Ahwatukee Foothills
• Guadalupe and Gilbert roads in Gilbert
• Greenway Parkway and 19th Avenue in Phoenix
• Bell Road and 43rd Avenue in Glendale